5. What steps he has taken to support the engineering industry; and if he will make a statement. (66020)
The Government are actively supporting engineering and manufacturing by boosting innovation, increasing business investment, improving skills and encouraging exports.
I thank the Minister for the departmental mission statement, but the reality is that the Thameslink contract is being given to Siemens without even getting the company to build in the UK. The Minister cannot hide behind EU rules, because the French buy only from France and the Germans buy only from Germany—and the last time I looked they were in the EU. Will he stand up for British industry at last, meet the Transport Secretary before the contract is signed and ensure that we keep train building in the UK at its historic home in Derby?
We are concerned for those workers in Derby and that is why we have already taken prompt action. I welcome the support of local Members, but I say to the right hon. Gentleman that the contract’s tendering rules were set in 2008 and you were responsible as a party for the first two years of the contract. I also remind the right hon. Gentleman that 1.7 million jobs were lost in manufacturing under the previous Labour Government.
Order. I remind the Minister that I was not responsible for any such contract at all. I am entirely innocent in the matter.
In South Staffordshire in the past year we have had considerable success in attracting engineering manufacturing jobs, but I am constantly being told that we do not have enough engineering graduates coming out of colleges and universities after 13 years of Labour government. What are we doing to rectify that?
Absolutely right—what we, rather than yourself, Mr Speaker, are doing about it is making sure that we have apprenticeships in place and that we put vocational education, which was neglected by the Labour party, back on a proper footing. We are also making sure that people are able to transfer between engineering firms. There is good news to be told.